Sunday 5 October 2014

Cast Heart

Cast Heart
Back to review another less expensive puzzle from my collection. My hoard from Puzzle Master is getting really small now and I guess it might be time to place another order again soon! I can't possibly allow myself to run out of small shiny things to play with and with which to taunt my colleagues!

This time we have the Cast Heart from Hanayama which is quite different from the other fun heart-shaped puzzle they make (the Cast Amour) which I reviewed here. This is another very attractive one in shiny silver and gold coloured metals with a gold linked chain wound through the various parts. The aim is simply to separate the 2 hearts and like all good things to do with "the heart" this should not be easy. The difficulty rating for this one is 4 in the Hanayama 6 point scale or 8 (Demanding) in Puzzle Master's 5-10 point scale. It looks absolutely stunning in the classic Hanayama black box with the twisty ties holding everything in place against a card backing plate. Unfortunately when released from the packaging it does tend to slop about quite a lot and not look quite so nice. Plus these shiny metal finishes show off fingerprints rather badly (I had to polish it a fair bit before taking the photos). It is a decent size (quite a bit bigger that the Cast Amour) at 6.3 x 6.3 x 0.5cm. It does look quite nice from the back too so here's a pic:

Cast Heart rear face
This puzzle has received three 4 and 5 star reviews on the Puzzle Master product page and it has also been favourably reviewed by Gabriel here - he found it quite challenging and by Brian here - he found it a small challenge at that early stage in his puzzling career.

Obviously this is a disentanglement puzzle involving a flexible chain (4.3 in the Slocum puzzle classification or VI. TNG-R&F - rigid and flexible parts in the Dalgetty-Hordern modification) and I usually dread any disentanglement puzzle that involves string or chains because they significantly increase the difficulty level. I often solve disentanglements by absentmindedly fiddling with them until I make crucial discoveries that can lead to the solution but with flexible parts this is a rather hazardous approach - often ending in a huge headache-inducing knot! So for this I just sat and looked at the design and path taken by the chain. The first thing to be noted is that the ends of the chain cannot pass through the holes in the big heart so the movement is all going to be using a loop of it in the middle.

I was a little disappointed that I solved this one in my head within 30 seconds of looking at it! I quickly noted the conformation and had a plan of what to do. The actual process of manipulating the chain took a good 5 minutes because it is a really fiddly thing to do and feeding it through various holes took a good bit of dexterity. After just 5 minutes I had this:

Separated hearts - now you need to put it back together!
I was rather surprised that a level 4 (8) puzzle only took me 5 minutes but I guess that over the last few years I have done quite a lot of this type of puzzle. Obviously some puzzles are more challenging to return to their original conformation and this is the case here! It is especially problematic that I was totally unable to remember the original arrangement of the chain around the hearts. My first attempt ended with it just not lying right and when I went back to my photo I realised I had but it back together incorrectly - back to square 1! After that, I tried again and had some success!

I fiddled with it for a little longer and noticed that there is an even easier way to separate the pieces than my original approach - finding a second method was definitely a bonus and if you buy it you should definitely search for 2 methods. The reviews on the product page had all said that it is an intuitive puzzle to solve and I have to agree - it literally only requires you to visualise the path of the chain and see a method to undo it. My second approach was much less intuitive to see in your head but much easier to physically perform in real life.

Is this a good one for your collection? I am often hesitant to give the thumbs up to flexible disentanglements because of the risk of "irreversible knot situations" but this one is very unlikely to end like that. If you are a "master" of disentanglements then it will be much too easy for you; but for the ordinary general puzzler, then this is a fun little challenge that will look nice on display. I am not sure I agree with the blurb on the box and the website:
This is even the kind of puzzle that I would recommend trying with - yes, you guessed it - a loved one.
Mrs S might like the heart design and the laser burning glare may soften for a moment (nanosecond) but she is VERY unlikely to want to solve it with me!


  1. Hi
    i've read almost all your reviews about the hanayama puzzles, it's verry interesting and funny. Keep up the good work.
    After trying some of these puzzles, i've decided that one day i'll have all the collection. At the moment i've got about half of the collection.
    I'm very happy to know there is a second solution to the cast heart so i can fiddle more with this puzzle :-)
    In another review you said the the two last pieces of the enigma doesn't need to be "forced". I'll try to find this alternate solution, thank you

    1. Good luck getting the whole set! They are great value!